Article: Painting on the shoulders of giants - learning by comparison

by Hansrainer

Hi all,

today its going to be a short one,
a brief article about something I only recently realised, after I received a great gift from my friend Richard: A Bust, amazingly painted to a standard which by far exceeds my own current level of painting and understanding.

The model is, of course, Radigundus sculpted by Raffaele Picca.

The fun thing about this bust is that I painted twice already
- and it was Richards version standing right beside my own, which inspired this article.

I think everybody will agree, that the internet has revolutionized painting in so far as everyone has access to tutorials, blogs, videos explaining every aspect of the hobby and sparing the effort to find out so many things by trial and error.

Similarily, sites like putty&paint or coolminiornot have given access to loads of mostly high-quality photos of painted miniatures and busts, which as well provide great study material to learn from. But photos always distort reality to a certain degree and can only represent a subset of the information a three dimensional object represents. Its amazing how little or different even well taken pictures represent a piece, once you have the chance to look at the actual painted object.

However, we rarely get to see masterpieces in detail, up close and personally. For most of us, the best shot we get at this is going to a miniature show like SMC, Moson or Monte San Savino and even then, we usually get to see them only from a small distance and more often than not in less than ideal lighting conditions for a few seconds, maybe minutes.

Sometimes when taking classes, we have a chance to get to see works of other classmates up close but even then, we rarely take the time to look really close, rather giving other people the chance of taking a glance themselves.

Now, when I received Richards gift, I wanted to do it justice and I took the time (and I had the time with it!) to study it in detail, compare how he interpretated volumes differently, how his selection of light affected the skintone and overall atmosphere and I always kept going back to the ones I painted, took notes and sketches of my observations.

This is something we, as aspiring artisans and maybe artists should do way more often, especially with pieces we are painting or have painted ourselves. And while its definitely advantageous to study pieces painted by much better painters than one self, you can always learn a lot even from painters on earlier stages of their journey.

So I want to encourage you:
Looking at pictures, reading Blogs and watching videos is great, but take the time to look at actual  painted miniatures as often as you can and as thouroughly as you can get away with. It will school your eye and improve your skills. Take the chance when you meet fellow painters to really examine their work and try and understand it.

To me, it also gave a whole new meaning to buying pieces from other painters (which I haven't done so far), not just to collect them, but to study and learn from them.

So, this was just some random thoughts instead of detailed research or a tutorial (and by a motivated dilletante) - let us know if its an interesting read or rather pointless in the comments.

Thank you!

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